In the early months of the pandemic, Kenny started a gaming thread on the WEA Reach Out Facebook page, where the conversation ranged from golden oldies (such as Pong and Space Invaders) to next-gen consoles. Once shy, Kenny now leads rich and enjoyable online conversations. This is a huge step forward. 

"I was introduced to Reach Out with the WEA about 10 years ago, and I’ve enjoyed it from the very first day. It’s a place you can relax and speak about anything. You can just let yourself go, surrounded by people in the same boat.  

Ever since I got an Atari with Space Invaders and Pacman Doodle aged about seven or eight, I knew I wanted to game all my life. Gaming helps me to unwind. I can escape into another world. You can also go online and make new friends, even if you never meet them in person.  

When lockdown came, it was great to get back up on Zoom, as so many folk rely on Reach Out for social interaction. The forum page on Facebook became really active. We could send in pictures of our daily exercise and cooking, and get ideas and healthy recipes to follow. There were movie and music threads, so I offered to run one for gaming. It’s been fantastic. I’ve had a lot of likes and positive comments. My wife has helped with my spelling, but nobody seems to mind anyway. I have a massive collection of games, so there’s plenty to speak about."

Image of Kenny, WEA learner

I used to be very shy. Reach Out has really helped boost my confidence. This award helps a huge amount too. Doing interviews for the award still makes me nervous, to be honest. But I couldn’t have done it all a few years ago. That’s a lot to do with my wife Nicola too. She has brought out my confidence.  

Together, we also do a Facebook page called Rae Stones, where we place painted stones around Aberdeen for people to find. We’ve grown a small following, who search for the stones and share their pictures. It’s just a bit of fun, but it brings a lot of pleasure.

Video transcript

I am Kenneth Ray and I have been awarded the Enhanced Digital Skills award.

The WEA it definitely doesn't feel like school or college, it doesn't feel like being in the classroom, it feels more like you're going around to a friend's house and just have a good catch up. It breaks up your day or week whatever you're choosing. How many days you're going even if it's just that one day a week and that one day just brightened up our day just to get us out of the house, see something different. It's one big family and you're just going in for a visit and yeah it's brilliant.

The lockdown happened with the Covid and then the WEA decided to go online because they couldn't open their doors due to the Covid.

We then went to Facebook: we took our classes as we usually do, I took the art and cooking in the Forum. From that point, we did our stuff but then I wanted to do my own page so on the WEA Reach Out page on the Facebook. I asked them could i get a gaming page they said yep no problem they're all for it. They let me do my gaming page, volunteer, run it and I couldn't thank him enough. I was well over the moon happy.

I could talk for ages about games i've been getting feedback from the students and the staff. The staff have remembered times back in the day when they played games and they were so delighted to see stuff bringing back memories for them as well.

I felt like I shouldn't deserve it because I feel like I haven't done enough but I am really really pleased that I got this. I am proud of myself it's made me feel like a nerd confidence boost that I think if i can do this then what else I can do in life, so yeah most appreciated, big time.

Kenny was the winner of the WEA digital skills award at the 2021 WEA Awards.

Lady in yellow jumper learning with the WEA on her laptop

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